Mamma Mia! Do we really want ABBA to play Glastonbury?
By alex.fahey | neil.outram on 12 January 2011YES says Neil Outram
In an interview in Sweden, one of the As from ABBA, Agnetha (the pretty blonde), paved the way for a one-off reunion after many years of rejecting the idea. As a result, bookies offered odds of 33-1 for ABBA performing at next year's Glastonbury.
It's been almost 30 years since the Swedish pop juggernaut broke up, leaving behind a vast catalogue of pop-by-numbers catchy tunes that will forever be played at parties and wedding receptions. ABBA are music legends, but do we really want to see them back together after all this time?
Time can be unkind, not least when there's reverence in your heart waiting to be stomped by harsh reality. What if it's another Whitney Houston? They might slur and stagger about the stage with stiff hips and dead eyes, meticulously murdering 'Dancing Queen' until it sounds like it was made to serenade Ann Widdecombe.
Putting such perfectly reasonable fears aside, though, it could easily be a resounding success, so I'm firmly in the "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" camp that thinks we should thank them for the music and ignore the fact it's probably about the money, money, money, which is, after all, the name of the game (OK, I'll stop now).
Even if the vocals turn out to be shaky and the once fresh faces are covered with more lines than Kerry Katona's grubby old vanity mirror, the opportunity to see one of the twentieth century's pop icons, for what may be their only performance, is too good to miss. It'd be like one mass outdoor karaoke party, which may well help the aging pop stars' performance, even if it only serves to drown them out.
Also, ABBA wouldn't be alone in the cheesy, past it category because Glastonbury almost has a tradition of dragging out yesterday's stars, often to the delight of the crowds. Shakin' Stevens, Rolf Harris, Gilbert O'Sullivan and Shirley Bassey are but a few of the unfashionable but enduring talents that have appeared at the festival. Seriously, if Shakin' Stevens and Gilbert O'Sullivan can be well received when they can barely muster a handful of recognisable songs between them, ABBA could be a classic, earth-stopping set by comparison!
Just like losing your virginity, don't think of it in terms of enjoying a great performance because you'll probably be sorely disappointed; instead, try to think of it as a special one-off event that'll stay with you forever, even if it is a bit of a shameful one in hindsight. Besides, all that matters is that you have a bloody good time, right? That's not a continuation of the virginity analogy, by the way.
So, do we really want ABBA at Glastonbury? Well, I do, but if you're still saying no, don't worry, it probably won't happen anyway.
NO argues Alex Fahey
When the story first surfaced that ABBA were in the frame to play at Worthy Farm, we were a little bewildered as to how the rumour had started. Yes, the recent film adaptation of Mamma Mia had enjoyed box office success but would that 'enjoyment' really translate to a field in Pilton? We thought perhaps a gossip hack enjoyed his 70's themed New Year's Eve party a little too much...
But, such is the way of the world, William Hill validated the story by offering odds of 33/1 that Bjorn and Benny are trimming their facial hair (and at retirement age possibly their nasal hair) while the ladies are crossing their fingers that skin-tight is still as sexy at sixty, in preparation for a Glastonbury performance.
At a cautious 33/1, is it that unlikely that the Swedish foursome will be making their way down to Pilton this year? Worthy Farm is no longer adverse to inviting the best pop performers down to Somerset; last year Shakira brought her hips to the Pyramid Stage, while in the past Lady Gaga's breasts have exploded on the Other Stage and recently Rhianna vying for a headline slot is greeted as a serious suggestion among the tabloid press, instead of an upturned nose by their musical counterparts.
Their stage show may not bring the theatrics of modern pop performers, it's hard to imagine Benny slipping into a meat jumpsuit, instead the draw would be a good old fashioned, cider induced sing-a-long. ABBA's music, despite the band's demise 27 years ago never really left the public arena. Stage shows, films and cover versions (thank you for the music Billie Piper) made sure that even if the radio wasn't tuned into Heart FM, the songs are instantly recognisable and the lyrics more memorable than that of the English National Anthem - sorry it's a tricky second verse, M'aam.
The Dancing Queens may have one up on Her Royal Highness in that respect but when it comes to the Pilton pecking order, they'll do well to stumble into a position any higher than a daytime kitsch slot - hardly befitting of a band who have sold in excess of 350 million records. They'd be in good company though with previous years hosting Tony Christie and Rolf Harris to name just two, but any mention of a headline slot would surely be detrimental to the survival of Glastonbury, which relies on the festival selling-out to exist.